Entrepreneurs urged: Embrace e-commerce

By Victor Anthony V. Silva November 27,2016

ENTERPRISE

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to take advantage of the country’s growing internet population and put up online platforms of their operations to scale up their businesses.

Ma. Elena Arbon, Cebu provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said they are slowly introducing micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) to electronic commerce or e-commerce to help them remain competitive amid a globalized business environment.

“We hope our MSMEs that are ready for it would really go into it. One example is our exporters. E-commerce is the way of the world,” she told Cebu Daily News.

Arbon defined e-commerce as an extension of one’s business online, where buying and selling and all other interactions are done on the web.
She likened this to setting up a “store” or a “marketing channel” which allowed entrepreneurs to reach a wider market.

Instead of establishing a physical shop for goods and services, Arbon said they may opt to build their presence online.

Rentals on spaces inside malls usually cost at least P200,000 every month while developing one’s own e-commerce site will only entail around P20,000.

Foot traffic inside malls average 100,000 to 200,000 every week, while e-commerce sites have the potential to reach millions of internet users not only in Cebu or the Philippines, but in the whole world.

Businesses are more likely to scale up their operations when they have online presence, said Arbon.

Philippine internet penetration has grown from 37 percent in 2013, translating to 36.1 million internet users, to 43.5 percent or 44 million internet users in 2016.

In 2013, the Philippines registered $1.5 billion in e-commerce sales and DTI’s Philippine E-Commerce Outlook 2018 projects this figure to grow by 101.4 percent in two years.

Last week, DTI Cebu launched an e-commerce and digital marketing workshop that will run until January next year.

Arbon said 20 MSMEs involved in various sectors such as food, furniture, and home accessories, among others, are participating with e-commerce advocate Janette Toral leading the workshop.

Toral has been pushing for the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines since 1997 and has helped the DTI come up with the Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap 2016-2020.

Among the topics covered in the workshop are website creation, product photography, web payments, social media presence, and search engine optimization.

“MSMEs in Cebu, which are more traditional, thrive in a different world. But they are the ones ready for e-commerce. It’s not something they can ignore,” said Arbon.

The trade official said their aim is to make more MSMEs understand the benefits of e-commerce so they can have substantial presence in that scene in the future.

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